Matrimonial anxieties

Matrimonial anxieties

Women in China who are above 27 and are unmarried are called ‘Sheng Nu’, meaning ‘left-over women’. A lot of Chinese women are trying to fight against this derogatory term. Though, back home in India, we don’t have such terminology, but women in India are not unfamiliar to this feeling. Keeping this feeling in mind, Nirmala Nair has shot a documentary, a PSBT production, Holy Matrimony. The film was recently screened at ‘Open Frame’ 16’ film festival, at India International Centre. 

Placing together the aspirations of two young women, who choose not to marry, and questioning the notions they are expected to fit into, the film portrays the contradiction between what a woman wants and what she is expected to be. “While making this film, I was dealing with similar issues, we interviewed many women and these two testimonies stood out,” shares Nair. 

The stories of Sonali and Vinitha, who are in their late twenties, depict the anxieties that women of this age group go through. Despite being financially independent, having bought her own house, Vinitha faces a lot of pressure. She expresses in the film, “Earlier when I used to meet a potential partner, my parent would not pressurise me to select him, but now that I am in my late twenties, they say just get it over with. Have I become such a burden on them that they need me to be wedded off as soon as possible?” 

On the other hand, Sonali shares in the film, “I cannot compromise and change the way I am. Many men have told me that I am not shy and submissive and men seem to prefer women who have these traits. A man is not expected to change after his marriage, why a woman should be expected to do so?” 

Sonali also shares that at an alumni meeting at her school, most of the women introduced themselves as mothers and wives. “When I told them that I am not married, it was a conversation stopper,” she shares in the film. 

Nair hopes that the attitudes towards women who are unmarried or unable to find the suitable partner will change. “I have not criticised the institution of marriage in this film but have brought focus to the kind of anxieties, dilemmas, and eventually the stigma that women face in this country,” she adds. 
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